The Frogs and the Snake

In the kingdom of the frogs, the royal couple did not swim or jump, as did other frogs. That was considered unseemly. They squatted regally upon the royal lily pad, giving their commands and growing fatter by the day. When they wanted to move on the water, the lily pad was pushed by 30 strong bullfrogs. When they traveled on land, the bull¬frogs bore the lily pad on their heads, hopping in strict time together, which gave a bumpy if majestic ride.

A snake came to this kingdom. It was a very old snake and had lost most of its teeth. Unable to catch prey as it had done when it was younger; it had developed guile and cunning. When it reached the edge of the pond, it attacked no frogs but began placidly to eat the grass and leaves.

The king and queen at once gave orders to the general of the frog armies to attack the monster and banish it, but when they surrounded it pointing their reed swords and threatening, the snake merely said “I have come in peace to serve your royal master and mistress. Please inform them that I am a vegetarian and there is no need to fear.”

This surprised all of the frogs. When the general reported this response, the king and queen frogs had themselves taken by the royal bullfrogs to a place a safe distance from the snake, where they asked how it planned to be of service. The snake smiled a snake smile and said, “Your royal majesties, just think how uncomfortable that lily pad is. Why not ride upon my back? You would be the envy of other frog monarchs.”

The king and queen hesitated. The idea certainly appealed. “Do we know we can trust you?” said the king.

“Test me” the snake insisted. Humbly and meekly, he allowed himself to be ridden by several soldier frogs and eventually by the large general frog. No harm came to any of them, so at last the king and queen mounted their royal steed.

Nothing unpleasant happened to them either. They sat astride the snake and the frogs cheered as they were carried around the pond and through the water and then on beyond to visit their royal neighbours at other ponds, who of course were all even greener than ever with envy.

This went on all day until the king and queen were thoroughly used to their marvellous bearer. Then the snake began to slow down and eventually he stopped. When asked what the matter was, he said he needed food. The vegetarian diet wasn’t giving him the strength he needed. “What I really need to eat” said the snake apologetically “Is a frog.”  “Is that all?” said the queen. “General, bring a prisoner frog for the royal snake.”

That is how the snake got the food it wanted. Day after day, it ate frogs – prisoners, criminals and then poor volunteers who sacrificed themselves for the good of the frog kingdom. So it went on. So it still goes on, though as time goes by, the snake is looking healthy but there are somehow far fewer frogs. The king and the queen are looking juicy and tempting too.

But what happens in mythical kingdoms of frogs has no relation to our world, of course.

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